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What Should the New Jersey Devils Do With Joey Anderson’s Next Contract?

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Joey Anderson isn’t one of the Devils major restricted free agents this offseason but is in a unique position as a 10.2 (c) RFA. This post will take a look at what Anderson has done in his brief time as a Devil, what his future could hold, and explain the 10.2 (c) condition that makes his free agent status unique to other RFA’s.

Columbus Blue Jackets v New Jersey Devils
Joey Anderson should play a part in the New Jersey Devils future. He will need a new contract this offseason but the Devils should have no problem signing him as he is a very restricted free agent due to his 10.2 (c) status.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

In today’s post we’ll take a look at Joey Anderson and his pending restricted free agency. Thankfully we can do it with the knowledge that Tom Fitzgerald is the Devils General Manager and that the salary cap will remain flat for next season and beyond. According to Cap Friendly, Joey Anderson is one of the Devils nine Restricted Free Agents (RFA) this offseason. The fact that he has only played in 52 games over the past two seasons with 8 goals and 5 assists can make him fly a bit under the radar on that list. Ending his Entry Level Contract with that amount of NHL games also makes him a different type of RFA - a 10.2 (c) - as Cap Friendly defines:

A player becomes a free agent when their contract expires on July 1 after the last League Year of their contract. A player who does not meet the UFA requirements or the Group 2 RFA requirements displayed in the table above, and has been issued a qualifying offer, is designated a 10.2(c) player. The player is only eligible to negotiate and sign a contract with the club that holds their signing rights. They are ineligible to negotiate a contract (offer sheet) with any other club. They are also ineligible for arbitration. If the player does not receive a qualifying offer by June 25th at 5:00pm ET, they immediately become a UFA.

Obviously those dates are different this year due to the pause of the NHL season. Anderson will most certainly be extended a qualifying offer. As Cap Friendly notes above, Anderson’s free agency is extra restricted as he can’t negotiate an offer sheet with any other team and has no arbitration rights. This means the Devils are his only NHL option which should make re-signing him even easier for Fitzgerald.

Background

Joey Anderson is a promising RW that just turned 22 years old on June 19. He was a 3rd round draft pick of the Devils in the 2016 NHL Draft out of the US National Team Development Program (USNTDP). He excelled in the program as the perfect complement to Clayton Keller and Kieffer Bellows due to his defensive skill, ability to win pucks in dirty areas, and willingness to cause chaos in front of the net. While with the USNTDP he represented the USA at the U17 World Hockey Championship and U18 World Junior Championship. He helped the U17 team to a Silver Medal and the U18 team to a Bronze Medal in those competitions.

After being drafted by the Devils, he went on to attend the University of Minnesota-Duluth from 2016-18. In the 2016-17 season he excelled as a true freshman with 12 goals and 25 assists in 39 games, finishing tied for 2nd in scoring on the team, as the Bulldogs made it to the NCAA Championship game. Anderson earned a U20 World Junior Championship Gold Medal that season by playing a key depth role on the team. In 2017-18 he returned to UMD as a sophomore and put up 11 goals and 16 assists in 36 games while battling various injuries. He played a crucial role as they won the NCAA Championship. He also Captained the USA U20 WJC team to a Bronze Medal in that year’s tournament. The Devils clear;y pleased with his development as a two-way RW with defensive and leadership qualities decided to sign him to his Entry Level Contract on April 15, 2018. The deal began with the 2017-18 season so Year 1 of the 3-Year Deal was quickly eliminated.

Joey Anderson With Binghamton

Joey Anderson turned pro in 2018-19, his age 20 season, and has since split the past two seasons between Binghamton in the AHL and New Jersey in the NHL. He missed over 2 months of the 2018-19 season due to an ankle injury. In 13 games with Binghamton that season he had 2 goals and 4 assists in 13 games.

Anderson would really excel for Binghamton in 2019-20, his age 21 season. His 15 goals and 19 assists in 44 games put him in 4th place on the team in scoring. However, according to Pick 224 (not counting Janne Kuokkanen’s brief time with the team), Anderson was 2nd in Points Per Game (0.77), 2nd in EV Primary Points Per Game (0.41), and 1st in Primary Points Per Estimated 60 Minutes (2.10). According to Elite Prospects, his 0.77 Points Per Game ranked 12th among all U22 players in the AHL (minimum 35+ GP) last season. He was .09 behind Janne Kuokkanen who finished in 6th place on that list.

Joey Anderson With New Jersey

Joey Anderson has played in 52 games for the Devils across the past two seasons. He played in 34 games for the New Jersey Devils in 2018-19, putting up 4 goals and 3 assists with an average ice time of 12:54. In 2019-20, he played in 18 games with 4 goals and 2 assists while averaging 13:13. As we can see from his RAPM Chart below from Evolving-Hockey, Anderson has had a slight positive impact on Expected Goals For Per 60, Expected Goals Against Per 60, and Corsi Against Per 60. On the flipside his Goals For Per 60 and Corsi For Per 60 haven’t been positive but that’s not too surprising given his time spent with Kevin Rooney and John Hayden. This is also a small sample but it at least supports what scouting reports and the eye test have told us about Anderson since his junior and college days - that he’s defensively responsible.

RAPM Chart courtesy of Evolving-Hockey.com

Anderson was called up in the beginning of February this past season and was receiving consistent playing time into March. The early end to the Devils season was unfortunate for him as he was gaining valuable NHL experience. He even saw his average ice time climb to 15:10 over his last 9 games to close the campaign. I think he has the inside track to earn a bottom 6 spot next season due to his sound defensive game and untapped offensive potential.

Possible Comparable Contracts for Joey Anderson

It was a bit challenging to find comparable contracts for Anderson given his lack of experience and 10.2 (c) status. I did find a few that while not exact comparables could be used to provide a framework.

For a fellow Devils comparable we have Miles Wood. He burned the first year off his ELC by signing in April of 2016. That meant after he finished off his first two full seasons he was a 10.2 (c) RFA. Now unlike Anderson, Wood was established as a NHL player by then, playing in 136 games and putting up 49 points. This led to him signing a 4 year deal worth $11,000,000 with the Devils before the 2018-19 season. Of course Anderson isn’t in contention for a multi-year deal of that caliber but it does show the Devils could opt to lock Anderson into a deal for the next few seasons.

Troy Terry of the Anaheim Ducks would perhaps be a closer comparable to Anderson. The RW was drafted in 2015 out of the USNTDP, played 3 seasons at the University of Denver, and signed his ELC in March of 2018 to burn the first year off quickly. He’s spent the past 2 seasons splitting time between Anaheim in the NHL and San Diego in the AHL. Unlike Anderson, he already has played in 81 NHL games with 28 points and he’s been more productive in the AHL with 57 points in 55 games. He was set to be a 10.2 (c) RFA this offseason but Anaheim extended him on a 3 year deal worth $4,350,000 for a cap hit of $1,450,000. Anderson isn’t likely to approach a 3 year deal and certainly not that amount of money just yet, but it does show that a smaller 2 year deal could be in the cards.

When looking around Cap Friendly for potential comparables, I came across former New Jersey Devils forward Joseph Blandisi. The Devils signed him in January 2015 as he was having a breakout year in the OHL with Barrie. He split the final 2 seasons of his ELC between New Jersey and Albany in the AHL. He played in 68 NHL games during that span putting up 26 points. He finished that ELC as a 10.2 (c) RFA and signed a 2 year deal worth $1,360,000. The average annual value (AAV) on his ELC was $788,333 while the cap hit (CH) was $648,333. On his second contract the cap hit rose slightly to $680,000 while the AAV fell to that figure. It is interesting to note that the minors salary in that second deal was $70,000 in the first year which equals his ELC deal and climbed to $135,000 in the second year. Anderson’s minors salary is $70,000 and maybe he’ll aim to get that increased in a new deal.

Washington Capitals LW Shane Gersich also came up on Cap Friendly as a comparable though unlike other players in this section, Anderson has outperformed him. Gersich was drafted in 2014 out of the USNTDP, spent his post draft year in the USHL with Omaha, and then spent 3 seasons at the University of North Dakota. Gersich was 22 when he signed his ELC while Anderson was 20 which is important to note. Due to Gersich’s age his ELC was for 2 seasons, not the usual 3, and he burned off the first year of that ELC by signing in March 2018. The 2018-19 season was his only full season of pro hockey on his ELC and he spent it in the AHL with Hershey putting up 24 points in 66 games. He finished that ELC as a 10.2 (c) RFA and signed a 1 year deal worth $700,000. That saw his cap hit drop by $225,000 which isn’t rare to happen on second contracts. It did see Gersich raise his minors salary from $70,000 to $115,000 which I think is something that would be important to Anderson. To date, Gersich has only played in 3 NHL games with an assist to show for it. He has a 0.35 Pts/GP rate in the AHL compared to Anderson’s 0.70.

Finally, we move on to Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Copp. He was drafted in 2013 out of the University of Michigan, having spent a couple of seasons with the USNTDP before that. He signed his ELC in March 2015 to quickly burn off the first year. Unlike Anderson, he spent the final two seasons of his ELC as a regular for Winnipeg, appearing in 141 games and putting up 30 points. He finished that contract as a 10.2 (c) RFA and signed a 2 year extension worth $2,000,000 before the 2017-18 season. This represented a slight increase in his cap hit and gave him a chance to prove himself more, which he did and ended up with an even better third contract before the 2019-20 season.

What Joey Anderson’s Next Contract Could Be

I tried above to provide a spectrum of contracts to base Joey Anderson’s next contract off of. I realize that none of the examples are an exact comparison but I think they can provide a bit of insight into what to expect.

The Devils have two options they can take with Joey Anderson’s next contract. They can sign him to a one year deal and then re-examine how he fits into their plans going forward in a year. This gives them a bit more flexibility in terms of roster construction. They can also decide to go with a more ambitious play and sign him to a multi-year deal. The main risk is that he doesn’t live up to his potential and is taking up cap space and a roster spot without providing a return on that investment. Now the dollar figures we are talking about with this contract are small in the grand scheme of things so it’s not like it’s a big risk but it is still a risk to some degree. The potential reward with that type of deal is that he continues to develop into a solid two-way, middle 6 RW and provides you solid value at a low cap hit without having to worry about his contract status.

Thanks to Evolving-Hockey, we have a contract projection to go off of. They project the most likely outcome to be Anderson getting a one year deal for a cap hit of $854,000. That would actually save the Devils $71,000 on the cap compared to his ELC which has a cap hit of $925,000. Perhaps Anderson would get a slight increase in his minors salary which is currently at $70,000.

A two-year deal isn’t out of the question which could be worth a total of $1,628,900. That would carry a cap hit of $814,450 and save the Devils $110,550 compared to his ELC. I think this would be my preferred deal. It gives the Devils two more years of Anderson on a cheaper deal than his ELC during his age 22 and 23 seasons. By then they should know how he fits into their plans and then could have a better idea of what type of contract they would want to give him next as he would still have a few more RFA years. I also think Anderson would be able to negotiate a decent pay raise on his minors salary so a deal like this would give him security at both the NHL and AHL levels. I do expect him to contribute at the NHL level going forward though. I think this deal makes the most sense for all parties.

Even less likely but a small possibility according to Evolving-Hockey’s system would be a three-year deal worth $2,622,900. This would carry a $874,300 cap hit which saves them $50,700 compared to his ELC’s cap hit. This deal would carry Anderson through his age 24 season. I really don’t see this as likely given his lack of experience at the NHL level and the competition he faces from the other young forwards for playing time. I think the Devils should keep his next deal to either a one or two year deal like mentioned above.

Your Take

What are your thoughts on Joey Anderson’s game? What type of contract would you extend to him? What type of contract do you think he will end up with? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!